Just on the city’s outskirts is a calm, relaxing neighborhood, full of green spaces and tranquil parks. Just a short ride will get you there.
This week I visited an area of Budapest I had never visited before; in fact, I had never even heard of it: The Wekerle Estates, in the XIXth District, just next to the Europark. There are two relatively easy ways to get there: take the 99 bus from Blaha Luiza Tér, which drops you off right at the Kós Károly stop on Wekerle’s main square, or take the Number 3 metro to Határ ut, go out Exit B, cross the tram tracks and pick up the Number 99 bus, which drops you off….well, you get the picture.
Anyway, what a serene and picturesque area. An obviously well-planned community, with architectural loveliness not often found. Lots of quiet open spaces, trees (around 50,000!), grass, greenery and plenty of winding back streets to roam and explore. Well-known Hungarian architect Károly Kós teamed up with several other building designers to create what some people have described as a fantasyland. In the early 20th Century, Prime Minister Sándor Wekerle gave his stamp of approval to this innovative project where each of the more than 1000 homes is a distinctive gem unto itself. The houses are many and varied shapes, sizes and colors and all of the tree-lined streets lead back to the center of the spider web: Károly Kós Square.
I was first struck at how clean it was there, little or no trash anywhere. Then, it was so quiet! Children played in the central park while parents sat at the Koller Bácsi sweet shop having a morning break of coffee and cake. I just wandered around for a while, checking out the side and back streets, lounging in the park and just generally letting the hustle and bustle of central Budapest slip away from me. As the bell in the tall steeple of the St. Joseph Church struck 1 PM, I strolled back down Pannónia Ut, just about 50 meters, to the Wekerle Étterem. It was another eye-opener. A fantastic menu, with prices that make the 20-30-minute trip here more than worth the time. The 14 chef’s offers include shrimp, bone marrow, rooster testicles (ouch!), pork, turkey, duck and catfish. Most main courses are less than 2000 ft and the wine list is certainly acceptable. The menu also includes five wild game dishes – two venison and three wild boar; the highest price for any of them was 2390 ft.
I had the Roast Wild Boar with blueberries and juniper, a side of potato croquettes and a couple of small beers for only 2900 ft. It was a taste treat, presented beautifully on sparkling white dishes, and is a dish to satisfy the taste-buds of any local gourmet. Just to be sure I was not mistaken at the prices, I checked out the drinks menu also. A Screwdriver is 600 ft and a Mojito is 800 ft (NB: at one of Budapest’s most well-known local chain pubs, a Mojito is 1990 ft!). Wines and palinkas are similarly priced.
So, next time, instead of heading for Szentendre for a day’s outing, take the shorter journey to Wekerle Estates. And be sure and visit the Wekerle Restaurant at Pannónia út 15, just off Kós Károly tér. Their Facebook page is HERE. It’s a wonderfully relaxing and inexpensive outing.
Photos: Gary Lukatch